MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Summer festivals 2017


  • (May 26 – 29)Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Festival

    Oak Forest, IL

    In this south Chicago suburb, there's music on five stages, plus a petting zoo, hurling, theater, Irish dog and pony exhibits and red hair, freckle and bonnie baby contests.


  • (Jun 2 – 4)Festa Italia

    Fitchburg, WI

    The heritage festival at McKee Farm Park in this Madison suburb features such things as folk dancing, a puppet show, a pasta-eating contest and vintage baseball as well as bocce ball.

  • (Jun 3)Milwaukee Highland Games

    Wauwatosa, WI

    Listen to bagpipe bands, eat Scottish food and watch sheepdogs, Highland dancers and athletes.

  • (Jun 3)Chocolate Fest

    Hortonville, WI

    The festival in this small town just west of Appleton features a chocolate-eating contest, a Tour de Chocolate bike ride, a bicycle rodeo, an Artisan Village and fireworks.

  • (Jun 8 – 11)Festival of the Fox

    St. Charles, IL

    See dragon-boat racing, a water-ski show, sand sculpting and car shows, all along the Fox River.

  • (Jun 8 – 10)Wizard of Oz Festival

    Grand Rapids, MN

    Judy Garland's hometown will offer such events as a trivia game, a petting zoo, games, carriage rides, talks and a free showing of the famous movie under the stars.

  • (Jun 10 – 11)Irish Festival

    Oshkosh, WI

    This festival in Riverside Park on the Fox River includes Irish music, food and dancing.

  • (Jun 15 – 18)Old Canal Days

    Lockport, IL

    Lockport was the headquarters of the Illinois & Michigan Canal and site of the first lock; now it's on the National Register of Historic Places.

    At its festival, there are historic reenactors, horse-drawn carriage tours of the canal, duck races, a juried craft show, music and a 6 p.m. Friday parade.

  • (Jun 15 – 18)Jaycee Water Carnival

    Hutchinson, MN

    This town just west of Minneapolis, on the Crow River, celebrates with a boat parade, fireworks, human foosball tournament, canoe races, water-ski show, car show and parade at 1 p.m. Sunday.

  • (Jun 23 – 24)Midwest Viking/Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival

    Moorhead, MN

    This festival at the Hjemkomst Center includes demonstrations, performances and goods that tell about society and culture in Viking-age Scandinavia and beyond.

  • (Jun 24)Shake the Lake

    Madison, WI

    This pre-Fourth festival on the shores of Lake Monona includes live bands, a human cannonball, a roller-derby exhibition, kids' activities and fireworks.

  • (Jun 30 – Jul 2)Iowa City Jazz Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    This downtown festival features a Culinary Row, Fun Zone for kids and Sunday fireworks in addition to music.

  • (Jun 30 – Jul 4)Petunia Festival

    Dixon, IL

    This festival in the Hometown of Ronald Reagan features music, a carnival, fireworks and a parade.

  • (Jun 30 – Jul 4)Sawdust Days

    Oshkosh, WI

    This festival in Menomonee Park, next to Lake Winnebago, celebrates the logging era, when Oshkosh was known as Sawdust City. It includes a historic village, flea market, carnival, Fourth of July fireworks and music on two stages, including Sabor-a-Mexico.


  • (Jul 4)Perkinstown Outhouse Race

    Medford, WI

    Bring your own throne to this race at Perkinstown Park. Teams of four pushers and one squatter compete for the titles "hardest pushers'' and "prettiest potty.''

  • (Jul 7 – 9)Blues Festival

    Thunder Bay, ON

    This festival has a scenic location in Marina Park, on the Lake Superior waterfront.

  • (Jul 7 – 9)Wild Rice Festival

    Deer River, MN

    This northern town near Grand Rapids offers a powwow Friday, wild-rice lunch, bike rodeo, sawdust scramble, singing competition and fireworks Saturday and a parade Sunday.

  • (Jul 12 – 16)Karl Oskar Days

    Lindstrom, MN

    The festival in this Swedish town just north of the Twin Cities features fireworks, a car show and a parade.

  • (Jul 13 – 23)Fiesta Days

    McHenry, IL

    There's a Music Fest, carnival and car and motorcycle show in Petersen Park the first weekend and a children's ice cream social, arts and crafts fair and Sunday parade the second weekend in Veteran's Memorial Park.

  • (Jul 14 – 16)Highland Fest

    St. Paul, MN

    This street fair in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood includes an arts fair, music, carnival rides, an all-Ford car and truck show and Saturday fireworks.

  • (Jul 14 – 16)Windmill City Festival

    Batavia, IL

    There's a carnival, pet parade, ice-cream eating contest and live bands in the town on the Fox River.

  • (Jul 15 – 16)World Arts & Music Festival

    Evanston, IL

    Dawes Park on Lake Michigan turns into a global village for this celebration of music, dance, arts and food.

  • (Jul 16)Twin Cities Beach Blast

    Minneapolis, MN

    The milk-carton boat races and sand-castle contest returns to Lake Calhoun's Thomas Beach. There's a new paddleboard category, and a showdown between milk-carton boats, a dragon boat and a rowing shell.

  • (Jul 20 – 23)St. Croix RiverFest

    Hudson, WI

    This town on the St. Croix River celebrates with a concert, hike, cruise, wildlife demos, paddleboard and log-rolling demos, a fishing derby and an and ice-cream social at the Octagon House.

  • (Jul 21 – 23)Waterford Balloonfest

    Waterford, WI

    The festival in this town between Milwaukee and Lake Geneva includes evening glows, a flight competition, helicopter rides, a craft fair and kids' activities.

  • (Jul 22)ArtBike + ArtCar Parade

    Minneapolis, MN

    Decorated bikes, cars and one Couchmobile will circle Lake Harriet at 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome to bring a decorated conveyance and join the parade; meet at 5 p.m. at the Rose Garden.

  • (Jul 25 – 30)Waterama

    Glenwood, MN

    This festival on the shores of Lake Minnewaska is famous for its lighted pontoon parade, followed by fireworks. On Sunday, there's a parade on land, followed by a water-ski show.

  • (Jul 28 – 30)North Star Stampede

    Effie, MN

    The rodeo in this town of 90 is a good excuse to explore the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway, which winds through Chippewa National Forest north of Grand Rapids.

  • (Jul 28 – 30)Pierogi Fest

    Whiting, IN

    This suburb of Chicago exalts the plump Eastern European dumplings, filled with cheese, mashed potatoes or sauerkraut, with pierogi eating and tossing contests, a Mr. Pierogi songfest and a Polka Parade.

  • (Jul 28 – 30)Taste of Wisconsin

    Kenosha, WI

    This free harborfront festival features locally produced specialties as well as cooking demonstrations, gardening workshops and music on three stages.

  • (Jul 28 – 29)Riverboat Days

    Wabasha, MN

    There's a pedal tractor pull, duck derby, firemen's water fight and 6 p.m. parade.

  • (Jul 28 – 29)Muskie Days

    Nevis, MN

    The festival in this lake town on the Heartland State Trail features an inflatable obstacle course, hula-hoop instruction, a casting contest, music on three stages, kids' games, an ice cream-eating contest and a parade at 6 p.m. Saturday.

  • (Jul 30)Harry Potter Festival

    Aurora, IL

    Mix potions, play quidditch, hunt for horcruxes and make wands, spellbooks and broomsticks in Diagon Alley.

    Tickets are sold out for this year.


  • (Aug. 3 – 6)Riverfest

    Ottawa, IL

    At the confluence of the Fox River with the Illinois, there's a carnival, paddleboat races, Art in the Park, Taste of Ottawa, live bands and a parade on the last day.

  • (Aug. 5 – 6)Powderhorn Art Fair

    Minneapolis, MN

    This smaller art festival in Powderhorn Park, in south Minneapolis, is not far from the big Uptown Art Fair.

  • (Aug. 11 – 12)Summer Microbrew & Music Festival

    Traverse City, MI

    This festival at Grand Traverse Commons features music and more than 200 craft beers.

  • (Aug. 12)Pure Water Days

    Chippewa Falls, WI

    There's a big parade downtown, followed by the Duck Splash Festival in Allen Park, then fireworks.

  • (Aug. 26 – 27)Festival in the Pines

    Eau Claire, WI

    There's music on two stages, children's games, a petting zoo and an arts fair in Carson Park. Entry to Paul Bunyan Logging Camp and Chippewa Valley Museum is included.

  • (Aug. 26 – 27)Harbor Fest

    Marquette, MI

    This Lake Superior town celebrates with rock music, a classic car and motorcycle show, a luge run and inflatables for kids.


  • (Sep. 3 – 4)Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival

    Geneva, IL

    Musicians and storytellers perform on eight stages at this festival in Island Park on the Fox River.

  • (Sep. 4)Mackinac Bridge Walk

    Mackinaw City, MI

    Once a year, on Labor Day, people can walk across the five-mile span, the third-longest suspension bridge in the world.